Public Awareness of Geothermal Benefits is Lacking
While the successes and failures of solar and wind technologies have been widely chronicled in the news, public awareness of geothermal has lagged behind. Given the established regulatory framework, the MEA geothermal installation data indicates that increased public awareness, financing options, and incentives such as tax credits, equipment rebates, and increases in financing opportunities will result in increase GHC installations. Below I describe the geothermal market in Maryland and recent developments that may reduce the hurdles involving initial costs, financing, and awareness.
Based on the 2007 to early 2013 data maintained by the MEA, the number of residential geothermal installations almost doubled from 386 in 2009 to 634 in 2010 and since then the number of GHC installations have fluctuated between 594 (2011) to 567 (2012). Maryland Counties with over 200 residential geothermal installations include Anne Arundel (447); Baltimore (242), Harford (238) and Montgomery County (291). The counties with the higher installation counts reflect the presence of a county property tax credit (in addition to other credits). With respect to credits, there are several Maryland GHC incentives, such as a Maryland state tax credit of up to $3,000, a federal tax credit of 30% of the system costs, and in certain counties a county property tax credit (e.g., $2,500 for Anne Arundel and Harford Counties, and $5000 for Baltimore and Prince Georges Counties). Montgomery County suspended its property tax credit program effective November 8, 2011. In addition to the above, an energy company (such as BGE) may also provide company rebate for installed systems. All of these incentives have clearly influenced, in a positive way, the development of geothermal installations in Maryland.
The MEA historical data also include data fields regarding the capacity of system installed (tons); project contractor, the total project cost, and location information. Consumers and interested individuals may find this data helpful for identifying local experienced contractors, estimating system size/costs. While the data are helpful, it is known that the data are not complete because many homeowners may not have submitted the application for state credits. The MEA data also include information on commercial/industrial systems. It is known that as result of EmPower Act and the Public Schools Energy Efficiency Initiative Engineering Design Program, with other Federal and State initiatives, Maryland is increasingly utilizing geothermal energy for public buildings such as schools and government buildings (both new construction and renovation) to reduce energy needs and costs.
You can read more about Maryland and Clean Energy alternatives at the MEA site.